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Showing posts from December, 2012

In which we return to normal life again: mostly horse stuff (plus food)

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Thus far, the abominable sn*w forecast has avoided us.   So, even though the weather is cold and wet, we've been riding in it.

Just before the holidays set upon us, we even dressed up in the Traditional XMoose Attire.


By the end of the ride, however, the Festive Antlers were permanently disintegrated by rain.

Ah, well.


After riding, food is always in order.


We have a few favorite spots--local establishments with staff that likes to see us even when we tramp in wearing our muddy boots and wet breeches.

Winter is also a good time to take lessons indoors.


Although the curriculum is officially "dressage", Fiddle's unofficial focus during lessons right now is "play nicely with others."


We're still working on it.  She is learning to tolerate other horses in the arena when she's working, and she's also learning to share space with them--politely.  She actually sort of likes Katie's new mare Whiskey.  She completely ignores the 2-year-old stud co…

In which this is the last story...until there is another story...

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It's been more than a week of storytelling here at the Haiku Farm Blog.
We'll return to regular posts about horses and farm life soon...but first, here's just one more story.  I learned this from storyteller Aaron Shepard, and my version isn't very different from his, even after years of telling it.  
I think a story about generosity is a good one to start out the New Year.  Let's make it a good 'un.





The Baker’s Dozen (Colonial America)In the colonial town now known as Albany, New York, there lived a baker who was as honest as he could be. Each morning, he checked and balanced his scales, and he took great care to give his customers exactly what they paid for—not more and not less.

The baker’s shop was always busy, because people trusted him, and because he was a good baker as well. And never was the shop busier than in the days before December 6, when the Dutch celebrate Saint Nicholas Day.

At that time of year, people flocked to the baker’s shop to buy his fine Sa…

In which there's another little winter story (I rarely run out)

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There's a gigantic, scruffy-looking black walnut tree in the backyard at Haiku Farm.  
When we moved here in early spring 2009, the other trees were already beginning to bud and leaf out, but the walnut stood steadfastly naked for months.  If we'd had more time, we'd have called it a dead tree and cut it down for firewood, but the first year in a new place is a busy time, and the first year on a farm is doubly busy.
I don't think we paid any attention to the tree until summer...when it suddenly produced leaves, buds, blossoms and fruit.   Amazing.  


The Walnut Tree and the Philosopher (Turkey)
Long time ago, when people didn’t know many things, and that included how to eat walnuts, a walnut tree grew by the road. It might have been planted there by someone, or it could have grown there by chance.


One day a traveler passed by. He stopped by the old walnut tree to rest in its shade. Then he noticed the green fruits and tasted one of them only to spit it out in disgust, becau…

In which there's another little story to make you smile (please share it!)

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In my home county, there are feral apple trees everywhere--trees that had been part of somebody's homestead, left behind when the house burnt down or was abandoned.  
Driving down any county road in spring, you can see the blossoms from the back seat window of the car.  Riding a horse along abandoned lanes and logging roads in autumn, you can eat-as-you-go, because there are plenty of apples for riders and steeds.
Where I live now, the apple trees aren't so common, but if you know how to look, you can still find them.  I consider each tree a blessing.


The blessing of the tree (Israel)
There was once a soldier returning home to Beersheba after fighting against the Romans.

He had walked for many miles, and had many more miles to walk. He was tired. He was hungry. He was thirsty. The desert was hot and dry, and yet, far off in the distance, the soldier could see a tree.

Breathless with fatigue, he walked to the tree, thinking all the while that it might be only a mirage. But the…

In which there is another small seasonal story to celebrate

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Jim has learned so much in his first season as a Real Bearded Santa.  It's not enough to dress in red and have a long white beard:  a good Santa Claus needs to know the background of the job, including some of the historical tales.  
Here's  a sweet (but obscure) little story about Saint Nicholas from Ireland.






Three Small Fish (Ireland)

While St. Nicholas was generous to others, he did not lead a grand life himself. He was even once a beggar who traveled all over the country with only the clothes on his back, his staff, and an old wooden pail.

One day, he came to a little town by the sea where almost no one was willing to help him. All day he stood on the street, asking for alms. But by the time evening fell, only three people had taken pity on him: a fisherman, a woman, and a priest. Strangely enough, each of them had given him the same thing—not a coin, but a small fish.

He put all three fish in his pail filled with water and walked on until he came to a house where a very poor …

In which we celebrate holidays with yet another small story

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Darkness isn't the only thing difficult about winter in the Swampland.  
Though it doesn't often sn*w (and we curse it when it does), winters here is cold and clammy...so cold that even the moon gets chilled.  This is a story about that.





A coat for the moon (Poland)

Once upon a time the moon said to the sun," It isn't fair that you get to shine during the day when it's warm, while I have to shine during the night when it's cold, especially in the winter."

The sun saw that the moon was unhappy, and said, "I shall have a coat made to keep you warm, and I will give this coat to you as a gift."

So the sun called together the big tailors of the city, those who were very rich and made clothing for rich people. The sun asked the big tailors to make a coat for the moon, one that would keep her warm even on the coldest nights.

The big tailors sat down together to discuss making the coat, but no matter how hard they tried, they couldn't figure out how to d…

In which we celebrate holidays with another little story

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2012 was a lovely year...but it wasn't all sunshine and roses for Haiku Farm. 
Our dearest, hardest loss this year was little Pickle Marie, who lived in our house only 7 brief months, but will live in our hearts forever.  This story is dedicated to her.






A Fairy Dog (Wales)

GOING home from Pentre Voelas Church, the good wife of Hafod y Gareg found a little dog in an exhausted state on the ground. She took it up tenderly and carried it home in her apron.

This she did partly from natural kindliness of heart, and partly from fear, because she remembered what had happened to her cousin of Bryn Heilyn. That cousin had come across a strange little dog and treated it cruelly. The fairies had come to her to give her the reward she deserved. They seized her up high, and enquired whether she would travel above wind, mid wind or below wind.

Now, if she had treated the little dog kindly, it would have told her the right answer: she ought to have selected the middle course, which would have meant a …

In which we celebrate winter holidays with a bunch of stories

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Every year after the world successfully navigates the Winter Solstice, I like to celebrate by posting a series of stories. The stories are usually folktales, occasionally original stories, and almost always re-told enough that their original tellers don't necessarily recognize them.

I've been giving stories as gifts for a lot of years--the original story about how and why my tradition got started is HERE.

Start of the 2009 story series is HERE, beginning with a 2-part story dedicated to all my horse daughters.

2010 stories start HERE, with a story from the Ukraine set on a cold and sn*wy day.

2011 stories began with a Skookum Xmas story, located HERE.

...which brings us to today, and a pretty little story from Bohemia. I hope you enjoy it...and please come visit tomorrow so you can read another new story!

THE SILVER CONES (Bohemia)

Long ago and far away in the mountain lands, there lived a miner with his wife and many children.

It was midwinter, and Christmas day not far away. The c…

In which we get ready for gift-giving by sharing a small story

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Does your family open gifts on Christmas Eve?  On Christmas morning?  After church?  Before breakfast?
Here at the Haiku Farm Blog, I like to celebrate the winter holidays by sharing a bunch of stories with my readers.  This is just the first of many.  Feel free to print, copy, forward, and share.  That's what stories are for.


La Befana (Italy)
Long, long ago, la Befana, who was even then an old woman, lived alone in a lonely place where four wide roads met. 
At the time this story happened, the roads were white with snow, for it was wintertime. In the summer, when the fields were full of flowers and the air full of sunshine and singing birds, la Befana’s home did not seem so very quiet; but in the winter, with only the snow-flakes and the shy snow-birds and the loud wind for company, the little old woman felt very cheerless. But she was a busy old woman, and as it was already twilight, and her home but half swept, she felt in a great hurry to finish her work before bed-time. You must…

In which I do what Mom says (as I always do...eventually)

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Ever since I started writing stories about the people in the sorta-mythical town of Skookum in November 2010, my mom has been asking for more Skookum stories.

She's pretty excited about the Endurance 101 book, of course--she's my mom. Of course she's proud of my first book. She's excited about the second book too (it will be out in Spring 2013).

But Skookum is the book that my mom really wants to read, so she's been asking (nicely) me to write it...for about 2 years.  I've written a few more stories for that book, but one character in particular would not get out of my brain:  Lulu Rubidoux.

Lulu isn't me, and I'm not her. I'd kill for her long curly red hair, but I'd never wear the shoes she wears to work--ugh, those heels!  We do have a lot in common, though...including a bad attitude towards the winter holiday season.

Here's a story about that.

If you like it, be sure to thank my mom.  I wrote it for her.

Lulu Rubidoux's Christmas …

In which *Endurance 101* is available in print at last!!!!!!!!

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Fiddle can hardly believe it.
After more than a year of work, paper copies of Endurance 101 are now available from the publisher!  
The first print run is very small, so supplies are limited.  We will be printing more, but if you are eager to have the book in your hands (or under the tree) by December 25th, you can order it now (or before December 19th) and we will get it to you via priority mail.
If you want a realio, trulio, paper-and-ink copy of the book, you can order it HERE.
If you want to buy the e-book for a Kindle, Nook, or a tablet or computer e-reader, the link is HERE.

Santa already has his copy.  Aren't you ready for yours?

Operators are NOT standing by, we are out riding.  But little computer gizmos are standing by to take your order, and we'll process it as soon as it gets too cold and dark to ride for the evening.

Order now!
PRINT BOOK here
E-BOOK here

Laughing all the way--hay!


In which Patty's new horse learns some weird stuff and earns a bunch of cookies

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River is learning a lot in her new home.

 One of the most important lessons is this:  People do weird stuff.


The lesson that came before the "weird stuff" lesson is this:  People have cookies.



River is a big fan of cookies.


Therefore, River is willing to do weird stuff with people...


...because she knows that the people with the cookies


...like to share.

The weirder the exercise...


...the more cookies will be involved.
A lot of folks disparage "teaching with food," but I'm a huge fan of rewarding food-oriented animals with food, intermixed with verbal praise and plenty of petting.  Intermittent reinforcement makes the strongest impression, as anyone who bought a Powerball ticket this week will tell you!
  It makes sense:  the people want a behavior, and the horse wants a cookie.   It's a good trade for both sides.  

River can even do weird things when other horses are doing weird things.


She's almost ready to carry a rider.

 Soon, River will be learn…